Five Reasons -- Wait, Six! -- to Start Considering WiMax Today

WiMax just may turn out to be exactly what IT managers need for their corporate wireless needs, particularly if more users are going mobile. (And aren't they all?) Because these mobile hotspots are the size of a city.

By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols
Thu, May 15, 2008

CIO — It's a Wi-Fi world, but Wi-Fi has its own set of problems. Now, mobile WiMax may provide corporations with another, better way of networking the mobile workforce.

Today, everyone in the user community swears by IEEE 802.11–based wireless networks. But IT people all swear at it. The high-speed, 100Mbps-plus, 802.11n standard still hasn't been finalized; covering space adequately with PoE (power over Ethernet) 802.11g access points (APs) continues to be difficult; and it's all too easy to overrun a single AP with too many clients.

So, while Wi-Fi is far too useful to consider getting rid of, it also continues to be an IT deployment and management headache. This is why mobile WiMax, IEEE 802.16e, is beginning to catch the attention of CIOs and CTOs.

Here are several good reasons to consider WiMax for your future wireless network needs.

1. Lower acquisition costs. Instead of worrying over dozens of 802.11 access points, their wiring and their power needs, you may need to install only a single Mobile WiMax AP.

One problem that the Sprint, Clearwire and the other major mobile WiMax companies are facing with their deployments is that they need gigantic Internet pipes to supply their bandwidth needs. A few T1s with their 1.554Mbps throughput don't come close to meeting their needs. A corporate WiMax network shouldn't require any more bandwidth than you're currently using.

2. Interoperability with the public WiMax networks. Sprint, Clearwire, Intel, Google, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Brightcove Network have joined forces to create a nationwide mobile WiMax network. Your mobile users will be able to use this network, just as they now use Wi-Fi hot spots to connect with the office. But the key difference, as Xohm President and Sprint Chief Technology Officer Barry West puts it, is that the hotspots will now be the "size of a city."

3. No vendor lock-in. As Motorola's WiMax solutions marketing manager, Ben Ansell, said, "For mobile WiMax to be seen as a truly open standard, products need to be interoperable." The WiMax Forum won't certify equipment unless it interoperates, so you can be sure that equipment you buy from one vendor will work with devices you get from another company. The bottom line: You can shop on the basis of price and quality without worrying over incompatibilities.

4. Broad vendor support. Mobile WiMax is a new technology, but there's nothing so cutting edge about it that it will make you bleed IT money as you install it. This wireless technology has support from the big boys of computing: Intel, Cisco, Microsoft, Nokia and more than a hundred other major vendors.

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